A FINE FUTURE FOR FREMANTLE
What is required to developing a unique historic city like Fremantle into a modern place for the future while retaining its special character and lifestyle?
Medium to high density human-scale housing spread all throughout the city that includes affordable accommodation for low income earners and students needs to be mixed with top quality upmarket dwellings built above ground level retail outlets, bars, cafes, restaurants. It is imperative to spread higher density-not highrise- dwellings throughout the city and not concentrate on the inner city around Kings Square alone. 4-6 storey buildings along Marine Terrace, South Fremantle for example would be good, as would buildings of up to 15 storeys behind Monument Hill at the Knutsford/Amherst Street development. A good height for new Fremantle buildings is six storeys and heights should be capped at no more than 29 metres in the CBD.
A mix of office, residential and retail occupancy in buildings should also be encouraged to make sure office buildings are not dark unlit spaces at night. Where people live there will be constant surveillance that will add to the safety of the area.
Improved local and metropolitan public transport needs to accommodate the predicted influx of new residents, office workers and people working in the retail and hospitality industries. Better connections with Coogee, Curtin and Murdoch Uni and hospital are also needed.
Fremantle needs to do more to keep visitors in the city, so it is essential to create inner city hotels and tourist attractions, e.g. Migrant Museum, Indigenous Cultural Centre, etc. The Warders Cottages in Henderson Street could become short term B&B. A stunning hotel overlooking Kings Square at Queens Street between High and Adelaide streets would mean a constant stream of visitors and users of the CBD.
Inner city parking could be improved with an underground car park under Fremantle Oval as part of the Stan Reiley site development. Shuttle services on weekends and during festivals from parking areas on the periphery of Fremantle to the inner city should also be considered.
Performing art spaces like Victoria Hall and the Town Hall need to be better utilised to the benefit of residents and visitors alike. Victoria Hall in particular should become a thriving performance center with a permanent café/bar, to accommodate groups like the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra, Harbour Theatre, contemporary music events, etc.
Bathers Beach and Arthur Head need to have improved pathways, lighting, signage and legibility, and the connectivity between them and Victoria Quay needs to be improved. There need to be more ‘linger nodes’ in these areas with improved seating and shade.
It is essential to keep all historic buildings in the area in excellent condition and a maintenance agenda needs to be met by the City. There is need for cafes/bars along our inner city Bathers Beach for people to enjoy the sunset, have wedding and corporate functions, etc.
The East End needs better integration so that Princess May Park becomes a stopover on the way to the Leisure Centre, Arts Centre and, the to be developed, new Cantonment Hill attractions.
The opening of small bars should be encouraged and made easier by cutting through red tape. At present the process is frustratingly long and people pull out.
Fremantle needs to become more pedestrian and bicycle friendly and South Terrace should be closed off for traffic on weekends while Marine Terrace needs safe pedestrian crossings. Maybe dedicate certain streets as bicycle streets only on busy weekends?
The Cappuccino Strip should continue to Wray Avenue by creating full time alfresco outside Fremantle Markets and also at the TAFE building opposite. The synagogue and the to be developed Stan Reilly site should also open up to the street.
With an ageing population it is important to cater for them as well and not assume everyone can or will use public transport or ride bicycles and scooters. Families will also require parking bays at apartments because they need cars to get children to sporting events, etc. While less cars is desirable reality dictates what needs to be done.
Cities develop and become vibrant through people, so more and better public and green spaces in the inner city are essential. The inner city has to be children friendly. Where youth want to linger parents will stay longer for coffee, a meal or go shopping. Activity pockets and linger nodes need to be created all around town.
The planned skate park should be moved to the north or south of the Esplanade. It is good to have the Youth Plaza in the inner city, but the few green inner city spaces we have left need to be preserved. There is no need to put the plaza on the Esplanade Reserve.
Developing Victoria Quay is a fantastic opportunity to do something outstanding for Fremantle. Fremantle Ports as a state government agency should do all it can to insist on high quality of design, architecture and buildings that will become and attraction and destination for visitors and locals.
Development should be good for Fremantle but it needs to be planned in great detail and not leave anything to chance. Traffic studies about traffic flow and parking are as important as where pedestrians will rest, linger and feel at home. Cyclists need to be accommodated, awnings that keep the rain and sun away from shoppers, new entertainment and tourism attractions need to be created, Bathers Beach needs to be better promoted as does our historic Arthur Head, access to Victoria Quay needs to become easier and more legible.
Kings Square and Point Street should set the benchmark for excellence in building design and quality for the rest of future Fremantle projects.
There is a myriad of things to be done and considered before development should be allowed. Development should be designed around public open space, so that open spaces are not just the small left over spaces developers don’t want to use. Planting of trees and bushes should also be prioritised at new development.
Ad hoc development that disregards the big picture on what Fremantle should look like in 20 years from now is not good enough. Fremantle council needs to be vigilant about that and not act in panic and develop at all cost. There needs to be constant awareness that developing Fremantle can’t be only about economic development or development for development sake. It needs to be developing a better lifestyle and ambiance, a better city to live, work and play in. The priority should be place making not money making.
We are developing Freo’s future and need to get it right. Second best is not an option!